Is the creative industry a job factory?

The creative industry has to provide jobs and is as a sector particularly able to do so. At least, such is often times proclaimed. But is this actually true? COL-researchers Richard Haans and Arjen van de Witteloostuijn researched the sector’s potential to offer people a job.

The creative industry is well-known for its potential to create many jobs. The question is if this is true for the whole industry, as one of its attributes namely consist of the sector being divided in many kinds of entrepreneurs and producers. All of them have something in common; the produce or distribute products and/or services of both economical and cultural value.

The structure of the creative industry is commonly depicted as a circle. The closer you get to the core of the circle, the more importance organizations (and entrepreneurs) attribute to the cultural value of the work, in comparison to the economical value. This doesn’t imply that the cultural value of their products is less, but states that companies at the edge of the sector spend more attention on the economical value of these products. There is another difference to mention: the expectation of growth may differ between entrepreneurs at the edge of the creative industry and those who are closer to the core.

The sector’s core is characterized by labor-intensive activities, with the maker’s personality being a major influence. These activities are not just to be taken over by others. Although the activities at the edges require intense labor, the personal stamp of the maker is of far less importance and the work may be outsourced much easier. The invention and development of products of which artistic goals are highly appreciated additionally requires rather specialist and creative skills, whereas companies with a stronger focus on distribution and reproduction can also attract non-creative personnel and have a broader selection to choose their employees from.

Moreover, the way different parts of the sector are financed influences the growth possibilities. Creative entrepreneurs who mostly work with project financing, will grow a lot slower that those who have a solid sales or project base.

In order to grow, three things are required: the possibilities, the capacity and the motivation. These three factors are mainly present at the edges. The possibilities to realize growth within the creative industry are hence situated in that area. Besides this, we see a group in the core of the creative industry that is ambitious and motivated to grow, and have found their way to deal with the circumstances mentioned above. Especially this group is interesting in regard of incentive programs. They will be quicker in taking steps to create jobs that require a good amount creativity.

Baring all this in mind, what could we do to catalyze the increase in jobs in the creative industry?

First of all, focus on the group entrepreneurs within the sector who are motivated to grow and possess proper knowledge and skills to do so. These are the entrepreneurs who either have some personnel or who collaboratively started their company. Secondly, develop training material and offer assistance to entrepreneurs who would like to grow their business, especially in the field of management and business administration. Many entrepreneurs in the creative industry started from substantial knowledge and aren’t familiar with management. Furthermore, stimulation of co-working possibilities and ways to gather are important to creative entrepreneurs. This is how opportunities arise to create new jobs collaboratively, without the need for businesses to grow themselves.

The full paper can be found here.